Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, studied 234 professional performers, looking for a reason why mental health disorders are so common in the performing arts.
“The notion that artists and performing artists suffered more pathology, including bipolar disorder, troubled us,” dance coordinator and psychologist Paula Thomson, a co-author on the new study, told Psypost.
“No one seemed willing to also include the effects of early childhood adversity and adult trauma and its influence on creativity and psychopathology.”
The study examined 83 actors, directors, and designers; 129 dancers; and 20 musicians and opera singers. These study participants filled out self-report surveys pertaining to childhood adversity, sense of shame, creative experiences, proneness to fantasies, anxiety, and level of engagement in an activity.
The participants were able to be categorised into three groups: those who reported a high level of childhood adversity; those who had experienced a lower or medium level; and those who had experienced little to none.null
It’s the high-level group that demonstrated the greater extremes. These performing artists had much higher anxiety, much more internalised shame, and reported more cumulative past traumatic events. They were also more prone to fantasies.
But they also seemed more connected with the creative process, the researchers said. They were more aware of it, and reported feeling more absorbed in it. They reported heightened awareness of a state of inspiration and a sense of discovery during the process.
They were also able to move more easily between the state of absorption and a more distant state for critical awareness, and were more receptive to art.
“Lastly,” the researchers wrote, “[this] group identified greater appreciation for the transformational quality of creativity, in particular, how the creative process enabled a deeper engagement with the self and world. They recognised that it operated as a powerful force in their life.”
Obviously the study has caveats, as self-reported studies can be prone to personal bias. Also, since it was limited to performing artists, comparisons couldn’t easily be made with other subsets of the population.
Nevertheless, the finding, the researchers said, may indicate that adult performers who have experienced childhood adversity are better able to recognise and value the creative process; and the ability of that group to enjoy the creative process could indicate resilience.
“We are saddened by the number of participants in our study who have suffered multiple forms of childhood adversity as well as adult assaults (both sexual and non-sexual),” Thomson told Psypost.
“So many participants in our sample have experienced poly-traumatization and yet they also embrace their passion for performance and creativity. They are embracing ways to express all that is human.”
Long suspected throughout many CSA Victims’ childhoods, in 2018 Scientific Alert published the following article on the proven-identified link: “Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative”. Opening with ‘exposure to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family’ throughout a victim’s childhood, expands to join together how these impacts have a clear linkage. Complemented through Counselling and verifying some Victims’ long-held suspicions, this Article gives another (Scientific/Journalistic) POV – which may also satisfy those of us who often felt disbelieved, palmed-away or ignored. We knew what we were/had survived; we just didn’t know how to word, or should I say ‘Scientifically categorise’ what we ‘endured’! … WTF ?!!!… we were only young, innocent kids at their time: the perfect hunting ground, for these Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men.
I apologise for going off on an emotional-outburst, yet this is a toned-down form of many of the conversations had with Victims, Parents and Relations; Thankfully, their mutual aim is to protect this triggering news from younger Siblings; As horrifying as this possibility is to consider, perhaps this is (another) layer of defence which the Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men know of + exploit. Having (naturally?) always having entered the Arts, this Article gives many reasons and answers questions, yet more interests may be shown. Perhaps this is an underlying advantage of Creativity, yet CSA Survivours I’ve spent any time with each have their own ‘checklists’ to work through. At this point, I’ll aim to re-publish the complete Article ASAP, in addition to again providing the Private + Confidential Counsellors. Of great interest, is the amount of focus I am working through with my Counsellor on the “minor and inconsiderate” events, which are actually mounting up to explain the devastating impact which may result.
Hopes are that each of you, your loved ones and each of our ecosystems copes alright throughout this COVID19 Pandemic.
Hope Bastine was brought up in a “free love” community where sexual abuse of children was rife. As her abuser Derek Lincoln is finally brought to justice, she speaks to Sharon Hendry
Sharon HendrySunday August 09 2020, 12.01am BST, The Sunday Times
For years I have suffered from raging insomnia, and as usual I was pacing the streets of my local town centre fuelled with adrenaline after a poor night’s sleep. I found myself in front of a drab police station and suddenly there was a eureka moment.
I was ready to break the codes of the deeply secretive religious organisation I had been born into and tell the story of horrific, repeated abuse that has haunted me for more than 40 years. So, just like that, in 2004 I walked into Watford police station and reported to the desk: “I want to talk to somebody about some abuse please.”
Throughout the counselling I am regularly receiving, something which often gets raised is that although there’s quite a list of TYPES of child sexual abuse:
emotional or mental abuse, and
sexual abuse and includes signs, symptoms, and behavioral indicators of abuse.
There may be other TYPES, yet this is just a small example of where ‘traditional’ understanding clashes with the actual impact, victims try to live with, 247, also coping with COVID-19, trying to deal with Climate Change …
For many survivors, counselling may be the first time they have ever disclosed the abuse. They may have been locked into silence for years or even decades. Telling the counsellor can bring tremendous relief. On the other hand, some survivors may have revealed the abuse previously, only to be met with disbelief or rejection. Being heard and believed for the first time is an immensely important experience.
Trust is a difficult issue for most survivors of abuse. They may find it impossible to trust anyone: anyone could be a potential abuser. Others, though, have a problem with trusting too easily. As children, they weren’t able to learn who to trust and who not to, so in adult life, they are not able to use their gut instinct to recognise situations that would make other people feel uncomfortable. This means they can find themselves getting into abusive relationships and dangerous situations.
Counsellors are trained to be trustworthy with respect to confidentiality, reliability and other boundary issues. Experiencing a trusting relationship with the counsellor allows the client to re-set their capacity to trust other human beings.
Childhood sexual abuse is traumatic in many different ways, and children often learn to protect themselves by splitting off their awareness of the abuse. This process is called dissociation, and it is almost like self-hypnosis.
A consequence of dissociation can be that adult survivors experience terrifying flashbacks of the abuse, which don’t feel like real memories. A trained counsellor can help the client to understand the process of dissociation, so that they are less frightened, and can begin to re-integrate their memories.
Many survivors have feelings of intense shame, which they carry with them all the time. Telling their story to a counsellor, who is always non-judgmental, allows them to see things from a different perspective. They may realise for the first time just how young and vulnerable they were when the abuse took place.
The counsellor will emphasise that a child is never to blame, no matter how persuasively the abuser tells them that they are. Hearing from an expert that their experience was typical can bring huge release from shame. Instead, feelings of anger and grief may surface, which the counsellor can help to deal with safely.
Counselling for sexual abuse
Counsellors who are trained and experienced in working with sexual abuse are used to hearing very shocking and upsetting accounts. For the client, being able to share details which once seemed unbearable for another person to hear can bring great comfort, and again can help to dissolve feelings of shame. Current issues, no matter how painful, can be brought up in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.
For the counsellor and client to work through the many issues arising from childhood sexual abuse can take a while, but eventually, the aim is that the client feels ready to move on, leaving counselling feeling more empowered and more free to live their life.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics for 2006, approximately 905,000 U.S. children were found to have been maltreated that year, with 16% of them reported as physically abused (the remainder having suffered sexual abuse or neglect.)1 In other studies, it’s been noted that approximately 14-43% of children have experienced at least one traumatic abusive event prior to adulthood.2 And according to The American Humane Association (AHA), an estimated 1,460 children died in 2005 of abuse and neglect.3
The AHA defines physical child abuse as “non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child.”3 However, it can be challenging to draw the line between physical discipline and child abuse. When does corporal punishment cease to be a style of parenting and become an abusive behavior that is potentially traumatizing for its child victims in the long-term?
A recent episode of the popular television show Dr. Phil featured a woman whose extreme disciplinarian tactics later resulted in her arrest and prosecution for child abuse. A featured video showed her forcing her young adopted son to hold hot sauce in his mouth and take a cold shower as punishment for lying. Audience members were horrified—as was Dr. Phil—but the woman insisted that she couldn’t find a better way to control her child. Many child abusers are not aware when their behavior becomes harmful to a child or how to deal with their own overwhelm before they lose their tempers.
At its core, any type of abuse of children constitutes exploitation of the child’s dependence on and attachment to the parent.
Another therapeutic term that is used in conjunction with child abuse is “interpersonal victimization.” According to the book Childhood victimization: violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of young people by David Finkelhor, interpersonal victimization can be defined as “…harm that comes to individuals because other human[s] have behaved in ways that violate social norms.”5 This sets all forms of abuse apart from other types of trauma-causing-victimization like illness, accidents, and natural disasters.
Finkelhor goes on to explain: “Child victimizations do not fit neatly into conventional crime categories. While children suffer all the crimes that adults do, many of the violent and deviant behaviors engaged in by human[s] to harm children have ambiguous status as crimes. The physical abuse of children, although technically criminal, is not frequently prosecuted and is generally handled by social-control agencies other than the police and criminal courts. “5
What happens to abused children?
In some cases—depending on the number of reports made, the severity of the abuse, and the available community resources—children may be separated from their parents and grow up in group homes or foster care situations, where further abuse can happen either at the hands of other abused children who are simply perpetuating a familiar patterns or the foster parents themselves. In 2004, 517,000 children were living in foster homes, and in 2005, a fifth of reported child abuse victims were taken out of their homes after child maltreatment investigations.6 Sometimes, children do go back to their parents after being taken away, but these statistics are slim. It’s easy to imagine that foster care and group home situations, while they may ease the incidence of abuse in a child’s life, can lead to further types of alienation and trauma.
For children that have suffered from abuse, it can be complex getting to the root of childhood trauma in order to alleviate later symptoms as adults. The question is, how does child abuse turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder later in life? What are the circumstances that cause this to happen in some cases and not others?
Statistics show that females are much more likely than males to develop PTSD as a result of experiencing child abuse. Other factors that help determine whether a child victim will develop PTSD include:7
The degree of perceived personal threat.
The developmental state of the child: Some professionals surmise that younger children, because they are less likely to intellectually understand and interpret the effects of a traumatic situation, may be less at risk for long-term PTSD).
The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator.
The level of support the victim has in his day-to-day life as well as the response of the caregiver(s).
Guilt: A feeling of responsibility for the attack (“I deserve it”) is thought to exacerbate the changes of PTSD.
Resilience: the innate ability to cope of the individual.
The child’s short-term response to abuse: For instance, an elevated heart rate post-abuse has been documented as increasing the likelihood that the victim will be later suffer from PTSD.
Carolyn Knight wrote a book called Working With Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma that states: “Trauma, by definition, is the result of exposure to an inescapably stressful event that overwhelms a person’s coping mechanisms.”6 She points out that an important aspect of an event (or pattern of events) is that it exceeds the victim’s ability to cope and is therefore overwhelming. A child should not have to cope with abuse, and when abuse occurs, a child is not equipped psychologically to process it. The adults in their lives are meant to be role models on how to regulate emotions and provide a safe environment.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, some of the particular symptoms of child PTSD include:8
Frequent memories and/or talk of the traumatic event(s)
Once a child has grown to be an adult, however, symptoms of PTSD can become more subtle as he or she learns how to cope with this in day-to-day life. The symptoms of PTSD can be quite general and can mimic other disorders: depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, problems with alcohol and drugs, sleep issues, and eating disorders are just a few. Many have problems in their relationships and trusting another person again. Many even end up in abusive relationships and find themselves re-enacting the past.
Community support is a vital tool in preventing child abuse and the PTSD that can result from it. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from child abuse, please report it to your local Child Protection Services — or the police, if a child is in immediate danger. The longer that abuse continues, the higher the risk of causing severe symptoms.
If you or a loved one may be suffering from delayed effects of trauma due to childhood abuse, I encourage you to make a therapyappointment with someone who specializes in trauma and who can put you on a path of healing.
1 Child Maltreatment 2006. Washington DC: US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and Families Children’s Bureau; 2008. 1-194
It can be very disorienting to feel like you have done something, but you haven’t. It’s also disorienting to be someone who tries to be a nice person, but is constantly accused of being disingenuous. If you’re experiencing either of these feelings as a result of another person’s actions, it’s possible that you might be a victim of gaslighting.
Though many people have been introduced to the term gaslighting recently, it’s important to understand exactly where it came from. The term has a long and varied history in the public eye, but it mainly takes its name from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a woman (Paula, portrayed by Ingrid Bergman) is psychologically manipulated by her husband to feel like she is insane when in reality she is perfectly fine.
Despite the fact that her mental state is perfectly fine, she still believes that she is going mad, a worry that gives her intense discomfort and produces legitimate feelings of madness.
It’s important to note that Paula eventually gets out of the relationship after realizing what is happening to her and learns to deal with manipulation, but the situation set a useful precedent for talking about psychological manipulation as it happens in society. Because of this, the term “gaslighting” reference’s the movie’s title as a way of describing the specific method of manipulation.
It might seem easy to understand manipulation as something that simply happened in a movie, but it can occur quite frequently in society. The most damaging thing about the practice is that many people who suffer from it don’t actually know that they’re being gaslit. Instead, they mistake their confusion for legitimate feelings against themselves, leading to lowered self worth and possible situations that make it more difficult to deal with gaslighting, such as Paula’s position in the aforementioned film.
This is why manipulation is important to understand and fight against when you notice that it is happening to you or somebody you know. More often than not, gaslighting occurs between two individuals who trust each other, with one subtly manipulating the other. Because it occurs often within intimate interpersonal relationships, manipulation can be incredibly difficult to spot.
Like with many other conditions, failing to notice manipulation early on can result in the condition getting worse, the victim becoming even more unaware, and potentially more damage in the long run.
To prepare yourself to deal with gaslighting before it’s too late, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with its symptoms. This is why we’re here to help—in this article, we’ll be taking a look at 10 Warning Signs of Gaslighting to Never Ignore.
Before we get into this article, we want to say that if you think that you might be experiencing symptoms of manipulation, it is important to get professional help from a psychologist or therapist. Medical professionals are the people who truly understand manipulation and how to deal with gaslighting, so please be careful and get help if you notice any of these 10 symptoms happening in your life.
#10. It’s Not All Negative
It’s easy to think that abuse and emotional manipulation is simply constant negativity and nothing else. However, abusers often mix in positive comments and what looks like love to make a victim believe that they actually do care about them. This type of hot/cold treatment is a cornerstone symptom of abuse.
Regardless of how it happens, it’s worth noting that positivity does not negate emotionally manipulative behavior and cannot be justified as love no matter how brief the negative behavior was.
#9. They Project Their Emotions
Many abusers often project their own problems onto their victims. For instance, if an abuser is having trouble managing money, they might criticize their partner’s financial situation more harshly than their own as a way of getting their partner to doubt their sense of reality.
#8. Confusion is Their Priority
Many abusers will start to gaslight victims by making them feel as though they are perpetually confused. It’s important to see these symptoms as they occur so you don’t fall prey to emotional abuse.
#7. They Get Others to Doubt You
Sometimes an abuser can manipulate the relationship a victim has to others by getting them to also be complicit in manipulating the victim. This is often without the others even knowing, getting them to admit to small personality traits and then blowing it up in the face of the victim.
For example, if an abuser wants a victim to think that they over-exaggerate everything, they might get a close mutual friend to admit that the victim blew one situation out of proportion. After this, they’ll present the findings to the victim in order to make them think they do blow things out of proportion.
#6. They Target Friends
A lot of the time, many people who are victims of gaslighting don’t realize it because they don’t have much contact with others who might be able to see the symptoms. This is often because the abuser makes the victim feel like they can’t trust their friends, resulting in them not socializing as much as they once did.
This can also be done by making their friends seem inauthentic or like liars themselves, causing the victim to believe the abuser and willingly limit their contact.
#5. Using Their Emotions
It’s no secret that being in a relationship involves both partners being able to listen to the other’s needs. However, abusers will often manipulate this relationship dynamic to make the other person do things they don’t want to do without evidence. Similar to what was previously mentioned regarding targeting friends and making the victim feel uncomfortable around those they used to socialize with, abusers can also cite their own personal feelings without providing evidence for something.
For example, if an abuser refuses to let their partner go see a friend on the basis that they hate them (or other aggressively negative feelings) without having any actual anecdotal evidence, that can be a form of gaslighting.
#4. Lying as a Precedent
When people lie, sometimes we have to think a bit to actually see through it clearly. This is why when somebody lies so blatantly, we take notice. Abusers manipulating victims will often take advantage of this dynamic, spewing blatant lies as a means of setting up a precedent.
By lying so directly, they will make the victim assume that everything they say from that point onward is a lie, something that makes manipulation a normal routine.
#3. Denying the Victim Agency
When we think of abusive behavior in relationships, we typically assume that it is something drastic, such as an abuser literally locking somebody into their apartment so they can’t go outside. However, there are more subtle ways this can occur through manipulation without the victim even noticing it, sometimes even being willingly complicit.
For example, if you’re in a relationship with somebody who continually questions your ability to not flirt with others while alone, they might be able to pressure you into feeling guilty for going outside or feeling that you can’t socialize without them by your side.
#2. Repetitive Nature of Symptoms
Many people falsely assume that they will be able to spot manipulation as soon as it begins happening, allowing them to quickly put a stop to the behavior. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth—gaslighting typically occurs over long periods of time, with the abuser slowly introducing more and more tactics into the victim’s everyday life until it has gotten too far to recognize it cleanly.
This is why it’s important to not take certain denials of agency lightly. If somebody is doing a similar action to deny your agency multiple times over, it could be an effect of how manipulation is now entering your relationship.
#1. Deny Something They Said
One of the most distressing symptoms of gaslighting is that the abuser might directly deny something they surely said previously. This is especially insidious as it pushes the victim to start to question their sense of reality.
When somebody says something didn’t happen that surely did happen, what does that mean for the rest of reality? Is it possible to even have an objective sense of reality when someone is lying so blatantly? This is why manipulation is such a harmful form of manipulation, as it can really get into somebody’s head and make them begin to question their entire life.
A way to prevent this can be to create objective proof of certain conversations so when they’re brought up again, you’re able to be sure that the abuser is definitely manipulating you.
Final Thoughts on Gaslighting
Gaslighting is an incredibly harmful form of emotional manipulation that is important to be aware of. By learning how to deal with gaslighting effectively, you can help yourself or your friends to catch the symptoms before it’s too late.
If you’ve noticed that you or somebody you know is experiencing symptoms of gaslighting, read the tips to this article and understand that speaking with a medical professional is the best way to deal with gaslighting!
“ ‘And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us’ ” (Luke 11: 4).
As I have said elsewhere on this website, forgiveness is a personal matter between abuse victims and their God. Urging forgiveness on victims prematurely ignores the gravity of their trauma, and the depravity of the sins committed against them.
This amounts to a further violation. Victims will necessarily feel that Christians are siding with the predator…even condoning the abuse. Shockingly, in some cases Christians have been guilty of this.
Witness the Catholic Church sex scandal. This was, at best, a product of poor judgment, and a distorted view of Scripture. At worst, it was a cold and calculated attempt to avoid corporate responsibility, while facilitating the most heinous of crimes.
Either way, church hierarchy applied precisely the same rationale to young abuse victims, as the high priest, Caiaphas, did to Christ: “ ‘…[I]t is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11: 50).
To be clear, forgiveness is not a “warm and cozy” feeling, on the part of victims. It is a deliberate decision by victims to leave the harm inflicted on them behind, and instead move on with their lives.
Significantly, genuine forgiveness can provide victims a release from their past which nothing else can. The link to the predator is severed. The hold the predator has had over victims is broken. More than that, through God’s grace, victims are set free to heal.
Forgiveness is not inconsistent with victims’ rights. A victim may decide no longer to expend emotional energy focusing on his/her loss. This does not preclude criminal prosecution of the predator for the crimes s/he committed.
Criminal liability and lifelong monitoring, when imposed, are consequences of the predator’s own actions. This is entirely in accord with Scripture. Society must take necessary steps to protect its most vulnerable members.
A few final words:
Christians genuinely interested in being supportive to abuse victims should better educate themselves, both on Scripture and abuse, and should pray fervently for compassion, which – sad to say – many lack.
God is waiting with open arms for abuse victims. They are more precious to Him than diamonds or gold. In fact, His Son Jesus died for them. It is this truth which Christians should strive to convey.
Christians speak regularly about the “sin nature” of mankind, the inclination by human beings to do wrong, as illustrated by wars and crime.
The following verses on the topic are typical:
“…[T]he imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21).
“ ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’” (Jer. 17:9).
“ ‘Then I will…take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes…’ ” (Ezek. 11: 19-20).
“ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ ” (Matt. 15: 19).
If anyone has experienced that sin nature, abuse victims have. Victims, however, have been more sinned against than sinning.
Unfortunately, the continuous emphasis on sin is likely to sound like condemnation to victims, when what they need is love, encouragement, and hope.
Christians should remember that abuse leaves behind deep scars. Victims of abuse may struggle with gender identification, sexual addiction or dysfunction, self-neglect, anxiety, depression, dissociation and related amnesia, drug or alcohol addiction, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, binging, and other issues. The majority of prostitutes are thought to be runaways, with a history of abuse.
Dealing with major problems like these is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for the self-righteous. Merely living ordinary lives can take enormous effort and enormous courage by abuse victims. That victims, for the most part, accomplish this is amazing.
Victims should not be made a topic of gossip. Nor should they be subjected to snap judgments, whether about their morality or mental state.
Above all, victims should be reassured that they were not the guilty party in abuse; that, as children, they were wholly incapable of consent to whatever was done to them; and that God still loves them, despite all they have been through.
Originally posted 3/15/15
This series will continue next week with Humility v. Lack of Worth
FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com